Special Edition, Inc. has over the past several years had an increased interest from the public in electric vehicles. There have been a dozen or so sales of eRollers (our product assembled in "kit" form with electric conversion in mind). Some of these have been to individuals wanting to do their own conversion. Others have been to companies that want to service the electric car specialty market and view our products as an excellent platform for this endeavor.
One of our authorized dealers, Duke's Garage, LLC. of Westminster, Colorado recently invited us to inspect and test drive their first BECK Speedster conversion. They have had several years of experience with electric vehicles, including work for both the City of Denver, and Boulder, CO. metropolitan service vehicles.
This BECK Speedster is featured in pictures below, and is likely to be the first commercially available BECK product in electric form that is factory authorized. The full technical specifications of the build, including range and pricing, will be posted here as this information becomes available.
We encourage everyone who has built an electric version of our BECK cars to send their information, including pictures, for posting on this informational page.
Kevin Hines Director
Spyder 550 Electrified by customer
Spyder 550 Electric
Our interest in electric vehicles
started less than a year ago when I considered having my good friend Scott
Smith, of Gloversville, New
York, build a Beck Spyder 550 replica from Special Edition, Inc.
in Bremen, Indiana.
We first thought we would build the
Spyder with a standard 110 hp VW gas engine but became more intrigued with the
idea of making it an all electric vehicle, so I ordered a 550 eRoller from
Special Edition, Inc. and it was delivered to Scott’s shop in October 2009.
Both Scott and I were always up for a challenge and neither one of us
new very much about electric vehicles except that I had recently found a
website WWW.EVTV.ME run by Jack Rickard of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
We obtained lots of equipment
recommendations from Jack Rickard and Bill Lentfer, of Electro Automotive in Felton, CA
and we started our project. We selected a High Performance Electric Vehicle
Systems (HPEVS) in Ontario, CA, AC-50, 3 phase AC induction motor and Curtis
1238 controller, Brusa NG511-TX, 3.3 kW
charger, and 36-Sky Energy 3.6 volt, 180 AH, lithium ion phosphate batteries
made in China. Most of the rest of the
electrical parts, components, and some tools necessary came from Electro
Scott started building the
car in earnest in November 2009 with no real blueprint other than his car
building experience and extensive fabricating capability. Scott can visualize a part, draw it, and then
make it. He is a very talented person and he was perfect for this project. Carey Hines and his father, Kevin of Special Edition,
Inc. were very helpful in explaining the wiring diagrams for the base
Scott and I were on our own for most
of the design and fitment considerations for the electric motor, controller and
battery placement. The work began with the fitment of the motor
and its adapter plate to the VW transaxle.
Scott then fabricated (4) rear,
plastic lined, aluminum battery boxes and supports and installed them low in
the rear mid engine compartment that normally held the VW gas engine. Next came
the installation of the controller, and related heat sinks for cooling. The
rest of the contactors, potentiometers, 12 volt battery and related systems had
to be planned for and fitted to the rear compartment. Scott also did a
beautiful job of fabricating the front compartment which normally held the gas
tank (not needed now) and a small trunk storage area. Here he placed the Brusa charger, 12 volt
DC/DC converter and a 500 Amp breaker which he wired to a pull switch in the
cockpit (left of the steering wheel) as a safety cutoff in case of an
electrical malfunction. The 12 additional batteries were placed up front just
in front of the other components. Scott also used the old gas filler cap as a
place for the plug-in AC receptacle to power the charger.
The car was completed in June of 2010
and our first test drives were exhilarating as we found our new electric
vehicle to have more than enough power and acceleration and also had very good
road manners. Our guest passengers had exclamations like “Awesome”, “I never
dreamed it would have this power”,
“Holy S—t, this is fast”, and “This is
no golf cart”. It was lots of fun
watching and listening to the reactions of people who never had been in an all
The only adjustments we made to the
car after first test drives were for ride height in the front of the car and
the addition of better front shocks. Since I have fitted car with a Xantrex
Link Pro battery monitor that shows AH used and percentage of battery range
left. This gives us a reliable fuel gauge. After one month of trouble free
driving we have found the car to have exceeded our 100 mile range estimates. We are
fine tuning vehicle wheel and tire sizes to increase original range estimates and
feel that 120 miles plus are very possible.
It accelerates from 0-30 mph in 6.5 seconds, 0-60 in 14.5 and has a top
speed of over 100 mph. We are using 192 watt hours per mile or 0.192 kilowatt
hours per mile. We can recharge our batteries in less than 8 hours
at a cost of less than $ 3.00. Our carbon footprint is less than 25% that of an
equivalent gas fueled vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon.
This has been a complete hoot. We, as
race car drivers and enthusiasts have become very green in our thinking of our
carbon footprint on the highway as well as at home. The electric vehicle build
has made very visible the possibilities of using electric vehicles as commuter
cars as most of us commute less than 50 miles per day. The electric charging
capacity is already in the public utility grid systems as most would charge at
home during evening hours. If electric vehicles became popular commuters, the diminished
demand for gas would lower its price and aid in reducing the great sucking
sound of our dollars going offshore to buy crude oil for domestic gasoline
production. This has been a great education and in the process has been very
COMING SOON Duane (550 above) will be converting a Beck 904 to full electric using an 11" motor! We are all excited to see the progress and will post updates here as they become available.
Special Edition, Inc.
119 N. Liberty Drive
Bremen, IN 46506
(574) 546-4656 - shop
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